When I first heard about the housefire that claimed 7 children’s lives, my heart broke. I felt the horror and the loss. Sympathy washed over me and I longed to reach out to the family and somehow offer comfort. But there isn’t anything I can do, except pray for the family.
But, then I heard that this family was from my state, Pennsylvania. Then I learned that the family was from the county I grew up in, Perry County. Yesterday, I learned that the family went to the same church as some good family friends of mine. Things became so much closer and more personal and real. There’s a good chance that I saw this family at the county fair, or at a picnic, or that we passed each other shopping at one of the feedstores, or I drove by their home some afternoon. My heart is crying for them . . .
Today, I learn that the funeral of these children is going to be protested. The disgust and anger, welling up inside of me is more than I can handle. I’m ashamed to be called a Christian (as any connection to this group fills me with disgust and horror). Even though I’ve watched other Christians make mistakes, and made many myself, I’ve never been so completely ashamed as now. The one thing comforting me, is that this kind of action, this protest cannot be of Christ. Even though I say I follow Christ, I’m in no way connected with this group. Christ isn’t one of hatred or protest. He was someone who picked up those who were hurting, healed bodies, touched hearts, and brought hope to those who were suffering, oftentimes taking that suffering on himself (just think of the cross). If Jesus were on the earth today, he would be the one carrying the caskets and holding and comforting the family and friends. He would be that peaceful presence, that strong shoulder.
Right now, those children are in Jesus’ arms. Nothing that happens this next week will change that. However, the family and friends left here are not in Jesus’ arms yet. It’s up to us to be Jesus’ arms to them. Love, care, support, understanding, and simply letting them mourn in peace should be what is happening. Media, please leave them alone. Protesting church, please leave them alone.